Some frequently asked questions
How do we start thinking about a ceremony?
You may love the idea of a personal wedding but don’t know where to start. Don’t worry. I’ll help you work out what would suit you best. I can advise on writing your vows, whether to include readings or poems, and how to include family and friends in a meaningful way. Some couples also like to include a special symbolic action to mark their marriage such as hand fasting or lighting candles (more ideas here).
I always say to couples – think about what it is that you want from your ceremony. Think about what it is that will make it ‘yours’. Think about who will be there and whether it’s important that they take part in some way.
A wedding will usually last 30 to 40 minutes. Although every wedding is unique, a typical structure might be as follows:
- music and arrival of the couple – individually or together
- introduction and welcomes
- words about love and commitment
- reading or poem – often delivered by a close friend or member of the family
- your story as a couple – how you met, your shared values, and your hopes for the future together
- what marriage means to you as a couple
- reading or poem
- your promises to each other
- exchange of rings
- a meaningful symbolic act
- pronouncement as married
- words of well-wishing
- walk back down the aisle to music
What about our vows?
What you say in your personal vows to each other is completely up to you. Some couples prefer to use traditional wording, while others write their own words. Sometimes couples choose to write their vows together which, in itself, can be a moving and affirming process. I can provide sample vows for you to look at that you might want to adapt. Others may choose to write their vows secretly, so that they are a surprise to each other. I can be involved to ‘sense check’ these and can help out if you are struggling to find the right words to say.
If you don’t like speaking in front of people or you’re worried you will forget your words we can find ways round this. I can print your vows on card for you or you can repeat words after me. Another option is to write your vows in the form of questions and answers, so that I ask the questions and you simply answer with ‘I do’.
Humanist weddings aren’t legal – how does that work?
Humanist weddings are legal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Jersey. But, sadly, they are not yet legal in England and Wales. Humanists UK is campaigning hard to make this happen.
Most couples I work with take care of the legalities at a local register office a few days before their humanist wedding, choosing to have a simple ceremony. However, some may have performed the legalities many months in advance. And, others may choose to leave the legalities until after the humanist ceremony, or choose not to legally register their marriage.
All the couples I work with consider their humanist ceremony their real wedding. And feedback from their guests confirms that they find the humanist ceremony much more moving and meaningful than other weddings they’ve been to, because it was so personal.
What does it cost?
For 2020, my wedding fee is £550. This includes:
- a planning meeting to discuss the ceremony in depth
- drafting and editing a personal script
- delivery of the ceremony on the day itself
A mid-week wedding is just £450.
If you want a rehearsal at the venue this is usually done the day before. This will cost an additional £100.
I charge travel at 50p per mile, for weddings further than 10 miles away.
My fee for vow renewal is not fixed, and will depend on what you want. Please do contact me to talk this through.
Where can a Humanist ceremony be held?
Anywhere. You are not limited to licensed venues. And you can have it indoors or out.
Do you do same-sex weddings?
Yes. I know that many people in the LGBTQ community have fought hard for equal recognition for partnerships. A Humanist ceremony recognises that equality.
What about vow renewals?
Yes. I’ve done some lovely ceremonies marking many milestones, from 5 years to 50.
I’m interested – what happens next?
I’m happy to meet up for a chat and a cup of coffee with no obligation. I can tell you about the way I work and how I would help you to put your ceremony together. You can tell me about what’s important for you and also ask lots of questions. If it’s not possible to meet up, I’m equally happy to talk on Skype or phone.
Working with couples who live overseas
I’ve worked with couples who live overseas. We’ve communicated by Skype and email to develop their ceremony and the script. We’ll then arrange to meet face-to-face before the wedding day, once they’ve arrived in the country.
Have more questions?
Organising a bespoke wedding ceremony can be a big thing. So, if you’ve got any more questions, do get in touch!
See also Humanists UK website on Frequently Asked Questions about humanist wedding ceremonies.